KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – The group “Save Coonskin Park” has been advocating for months to protect Coonskin Park from Yeager Airport’s potential plans to expand their runway as part of the proposed Airfield, Safety, and Terminal Improvement project.

This project, if approved, would extend the runway into portions of the park.

“Save Coonskin Park’s” deadline to sign the petition is on Labor Day, and they’re writing a letter to stakeholders next week to present these signatures. So far, they’ve gained more than 8,600 signatures since it was created last spring.

“There is no magic number, but to be able to put another number in front of that comma, it’s a statement. It’s an impact,” ‘Save Coonskin Park’ organizer Jeremy Severn said. “Charleston’s population is under 50,000 and to say that, not to imply that every single signature is from Charleston, a lot are, but to be able to say in a community of 50,000 there are 10,000 signatures, that’s a big number.”

Yeager Airport proposed their Airfield, Safety, and Terminal Improvement project last fall, and it would extend the runway from its current length of 6,700 feet to 8,000 feet total in a two-phase process.

At a board meeting on Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration said they would give a $2.29 million grant to pay for a third phase of the Environmental Impact Study. This study reviews alternative alignment possibilities for this proposed project, according to Yeager airport.

However, “Save Coonskin Park” members said the number of signatures they’ve received so far speaks volumes to how much they care.

“What makes Coonskin Park is what you get when you drive past that stuff and you have over eight miles worth of beautiful hiking trails, and you have three mountain tops that they want to remove to fill in the valley to shift and extend the runway,” Severn said. “To me, that’s why it’s important. We live in the Mountain State, and I want to keep the mountains. Why are we removing the mountains from the Mountain State?”

Their goal is to hit 10,000 by Monday.  

“Save Coonskin Park” members plan to file a letter to Yeager airport officials, state officials, the Federal Aviation Administration and other stakeholders by the end of next week once they get the final count on their petition.

They said the deadline to sign this petition was moved to Labor Day to give the public more time to consider signing.